30th January 2015: Responsibilities are a crucial factor of any individual belonging to the Diaspora anywhere in the world. Responsibilities, really…such a huge word with a huge dynamic!
Budgeting with various responsibilities at the back of the mind is very daunting. The type of daunting that makes an individual not to pick up calls from ‘Back Home’.
-What do they want?
Life is hard abroad, yes, but it can be organized very systematically. How? Remember all those board games, you played when you were younger. Any games you played using pebbles or seeds and had to put one at a time in pots or holes till you had as many pebbles or seeds collected and this had to be done consistently to win.
Well, budgeting is quite like that!
As individuals living and working in the diaspora, we tend to be bogged down by the bills we pay. Taking an indebt look at how we utilize our finances and reduce the expenses we incur is the first step to maintaining budgeting success.
Balancing our finances with our expenses as well as reducing the amount we spend helps in constantly addressing situations as they arise, like ‘Back home commitments’.
Due to the various responsibilities, as a Community in Diaspora, it is necessary to add more categories to the regular essentials like (Food, shelter and electricity bills). These secondary categories will include religious obligations, Back Home responsibilities (depending on the individual responsibilities), Ajoh, Susu, etc. (African saving scheme) and of course the weekend social commitments.
Identifying income streams, expenses and saving plans for various commitments, enables us to plan long term, be assertive with our commitment plans and reducing our overly debt commitments.
Changing little things, energy efficient light bulbs in the home can save Euros in electricity bills. Changing cable operators or watching your bank charges, all these help in reducing overly bills in a little way.
Buying a home or car we can afford is another major bill in our household commitments. Living in the diaspora does not mean we need to lose sight of our goals and invest in a building or car, we cannot afford.
Maintaining mortgage debt for 25 to 30 odd years and mortgage approvals of 250 thousand Euros are not the same thing!
Committing to an affordable goal requires consistent dedication, of putting money aside. It is essential that this is done on a regular basis as pre-emptive measures to off-set any bills that can be brought about from that dreaded call.
By Tokie Laotan-Brown,
Ms Laotan-Brown is the author of the book “10 Steps to Managing your household budget” which provides readers with useful financial management tools to assess how their household expenditure is utilised.